Earth Surface Processes and Geomorphology

Thomas Hickson

University of St. Thomas
Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


This is a sophomore level geomorphology course that mainly focuses on earth surface processes.

Course Size:

Course Context:

This is a sophomore level course that satisfies several different requirements: a second science course for university's core curriculum, an elective in the geology B.A., B.S., and minor tracks, an elective in our environmental studies program, an elective in a new environmental science program. It has a prereq of one intro geology course.

Course Goals:

1. Students should be able to drive just about anywhere and have some idea of how the land surface came to look the way it does
2. Students should be able to convey an awareness of the way earth surface systems behave and, maybe more importantly, interact with one another.
3. Students should be able to qualitatively identify a variety of landforms on the ground, topographic maps, aerial photographs, and satellite imagery.
4. Students should be able to describe the way geomorphology ties into other aspects of geology (tectonics, sedimentology, stratigraphy, hydrogeology, environmental geology, etc.).

How course activities and course structure help students achieve these goals:

At present most of my labs, in-class activities, and projects are centered on achieving one or more of these goals. I use exams and papers to assess whether I have achieved them. However, to be completely honest, I think that my goals are too far-reaching and difficult to assess. This course is screaming out for revision and I would like to sharpen its focus.

Skills Goals

1. this course has a strong writing component and student writing from this course is used as part of a departmental portfolio review to assess our department's overall effectiveness at improving student critical thinking and written communication.
2. I want students to become much more proficient in data analysis using Excel and other software.


Very traditionally: exams, papers, and lab exercises.


Syllabus (Acrobat (PDF) 86kB Apr14 08)